Don't you hate it when you make a big stink about something and it turns out that you are double-dead wrong?
And then you have to slink in and eat some crow and pay $30 for a book covered in grossness?
Yeah, me too.
See, I've been having a fight with my local library. (It pains me to even type that because the library and I are BFFs, and up until now we've been seeing each other several times a week, and all the librarians and checkout volunteers know me by name and what kind of reading kick I've been on lately. And it's been years of tea parties and sleepovers and slow-motion romping through daisies together while the Best Friend song from Queen plays in the background). But there comes a time in every friendship where someone gets mad over a misunderstanding (or a little mysterious yellow stuff) and those friends quit speaking for a while.
It all started innocently enough. I checked out a book. I read said book. I returned said book along with several other books through the after-hours book drop. Life was good. But then! Then! One day out of the blue, my BFF library sent me a nasty note. And it said that I had grievously slighted them by spilling "yellow stuff" all over a book and now it was ruined and I owed them $30 for a new book or they wouldn't be my bestest friend anymore SO THERE!
And I, reacting a bit strongly to the idea of my library breaking up with me over a horribly false accusation, called them up to be like, "What yellow stuff!?! I didn't spill any yellow stuff on any book! I would never do that to a book! You're a dirty dirty fibber, and I don't want to be friends with dirty fibbers SO THERE!"
And then the library yelled "Fine!" and I yelled "Fine!" and then we both slammed some doors and went home to play by ourselves. (Metaphorically speaking anyway...in actuality, the library and I were both professional adults where I exclaimed confused but polite dismay and the library professed apologetic but polite insistence and we were both very polite about the whole thing. But the underlying feeling of door slamming was there).
In my head, "yellow stuff" looked like French's mustard, which I do not eat, so why would I smear it all over a book? Why would the library claim such lies about me? Actually, it wouldn't surprise me at all if it was actually the library's fault! They're trying to set me up! I left the book safely in the book drop. Maybe some grubby-handed child visited the library and was playing in the book drop receptacle! Maybe some careless volunteer was eating a mustard sandwich on rye while checking in books and got some on the cover! Formally-bff library is trying to make me the fall guy!
So I sat in my room alone for a few days, feeling abused and missing the library terribly but refusing to admit it, and the library did the same. (Oh sure, they have other patrons, but none of them are BFFs like me). And for a while I tried to make new friends with Borders and Barnes and Noble, but they were more interested in a commercial relationship with me rather than one where they let me read their books for free. And it was horribly lonely.
Then one day a few days later, the library left a message on my answering machine, cautiously suggesting that I come in and see mysterious yellow stuff for myself. It wasn't exactly an overture of friendship, mind you, but at this point I was desperate to see them again, so I agreed.
Driving over, I told myself that if the library admitted that they were wrong, I would take them back graciously. If I told them that I had nothing to do with the yellow stuff and they believed me, then we would put this whole ugly mess behind us. If they said they were sorry and they wanted to be my friend again, I would immediately check out 8 books and make us matching "Friends forever" bracelets. Overall, I was feeling very benevolent and forgiving about the whole thing.
And then I saw the "yellow stuff" they were talking about.
Which sucked, because I recognized it instantly.
And it meant that I was 100% in the wrong, and the library was right.
It was not French's mustard. It was a little thing we like to call kitty barf. And since the library does not have any cats, it was a pretty safe bet that it came from my house, where there are several little furry barf factories of the feline persuasion running amok and having full access to library books. I have no idea why I didn't see it when I scooped the books up to return them, but I didn't. And so I gave the library a hairball-covered book. Mea culpa.
Of course, there was nothing to do after that other than to hang my head and apologize profusely while paying the library $30 for their new book. I am a bad book renter. I do not have the proper respect for the written word. I let my four-legged charges abuse a Times best-seller. I do not deserve to be the library's friend.
The library, however, would hear none of it. (Oh, they still took my $30, but there was no reason to beat myself up over it). These things happen, they said! Who can control kitty barf, they said! Of course you are forgiven! The library has a new book, and I have a commemorative barf-covered one. We shall speak of the matter no more. Bestest best friends again.
So we are back. Braiding each other's hair, passing notes in Social studies, and delivering those hard to find books through the inter-library loan system. And I have learned an important lesson about not being overly defensive, and checking my books carefully before returning them, and keeping loaned books at least two feet off the floor so kitties can't get to them.
Cue the Queen music.